In the end, Cheng Yang was unable to convince Cheng Xi to leave with him. Though, he was used to this outcome: even in their childhood, she had always been the one to convince him, and not the other way around.
But he also didn’t want to see her throw herself at Lu Chenzhou any longer, as it was just torturing him at this point. So, Cheng Yang simply decided to leave.
But before he left, Cheng Xi promised him, “I’ll take good care of myself, and I won’t let anything bad happen to me.”
Cheng Yang laughed coldly in response. “Your promises mean nothing!”
But in the end, Cheng Yang was still worried enough to request Lu Chenming to keep an eye out for her. And he actually did this by clutching Lu Chenming’s shoulder and whispering, “Keep a close eye on the two of them for me. If anything goes wrong, remember to punch your brother. If he breaks anything, I’ll pay you restitution. If he dies, I’ll be your brother from then on.” He then nudged Lu Chenming and continued to say, “Didn’t you used to like my sister? I hereby give you permission to like her, woo her, and steal her from Lu Chenzhou.”
Lu Chenming was so scared by Cheng Yang’s words that he started trembling. “I…… I don’t dare.”
When Cheng Yang saw this timid reaction, he sighed loudly. What had happened to his courage back when he had thought that Cheng Xi was icey?
He could only conclude that everyone in the Lu family was a weirdo.
At the same time, Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents were thinking almost the exact same thing. How long ago had Lu Chenzhou’s mother died? Why did he bring it up all of a sudden? Who knew what else would be dredged up along with it?
The reason why all these questions were flying through Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents’ head was because he had suddenly said, “I told her about what happened during the fire.”
Before either of them could react or even comprehend what he’d said, Lu Chenzhou’s grandmother instinctively tried to clamp his mouth shut, but Lu Chenzhou avoided her grasp. She suddenly remembered that he didn’t like to be touched, and she stamped her feet in frustration. “What’s with you?! Why did you bring this up out of nowhere?”
Lu Chenzhou looked at them with an unfathomably deep gaze.
His grandparents’ scalps went numb. “You…… what are you planning to do?”
Lu Chenzhou’s response was the second thing he’d said to them all day. “If she asks you, then tell her the truth. Tell her everything. Otherwise, I’ll tell her on your behalf, and who knows what I’ll say.”
After Cheng Xi said goodbye to Cheng Yang and went back into the house, the first thing she saw was Lu Chenzohu’s grandparent’s crestfallen expressions. She was so shocked that she instinctively asked, “Did something happen to Lu Chenzhou?”
“No, it’s nothing.” Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather waved his hands dismissively before saying, “So, Zhou said that you had something you wanted to ask us about?”
It seemed that Lu Chenzhou had already guessed that she was planning on talking to his grandparents next, and had preemptively saved her the trouble of bringing it up. Cheng Xi nodded. “That’s right.”
The three of them found an empty room, and Cheng Xi directly broached the subject this time. “I want to know whether or not Lu Chenzhou’s personality changed drastically after his mother’s death.”
Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents glanced at each other before his grandfather responded, “No, I don’t believe so. He’s always been calm and quiet, but he did have a harder time getting closer to people after his mother’s death.”
“Did his mother treat him well?”
“No.” This time, it was his grandmother who spoke up. “His mother was a crazy workaholic, and the only thing on her mind was the lab. She didn’t spare any time for her son at all!”
“But Lu Chenzhou said that his mother treated him well, and that she often brought him to work.”
“That’s only because she’d discovered that Zhou was interested in experimental work and that he had some talent for it. She wanted to inculcate him with her own research from a young age. That way, he’d grow up to become a genius.”
Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather even added on, “That’s why her death really had nothing to do with Zhou. I mean, who’d bring a child to the lab area?”
His grandmother followed up with, “That’s right. What happened with the fire can’t really be blamed on Zhou. He was so small back then, what did he know? He was so scared that he locked the door and ran out…… Isn’t that a perfectly normal reaction for a kid?”
Cheng Xi looked at them each in turn. “After the incident, did you instruct him to hide this fact?”
Cheng Xi knew that all the details she had found in the public domain about the incident had only said that the fire was caused by a lab employee, and that it had spread too quickly for the employees to escape. There had been no mention of the front door being locked at all.
Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents were a little uneasy when they heard her question. “What else could we do? He was so small back then……”
“Then what about what he said about being a test subject?”
“That was actually an incident. Honestly, even his mother wasn’t crazy enough to treat him as a test subject, and we wouldn’t have allowed it anyways. He really did eat the wrong medicine by accident, and we had to get his stomach pumped. After that, his mother said that she would keep an eye on him to see if any side effects developed. At the time, we joked around that he had become his mother’s test subject, but she became very mad when we said this, as evidently there’d be trouble if Lu Chenzhou blabbed about this. And it was also after that incident that his mother realized that he had considerable talent for experimental work. From that point onwards, she’d often bring him to work with her.”
Perhaps it was because they’d already gone over the crucial parts of the whole thing, but Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents were completely transparent at this point. They even mentioned how Lu Chenzhou’s parents didn’t have a very good relationship, and apparently, his father had even had a mistress before the accident. This had greatly angered Lu Chenzhou’s maternal grandparents, and as they berated Lu Chenzhou’s father, they had also ended up dragging Lu Chenzhou into the convoluted affair, calling him a heartless and cold-blooded monster. Lu Chenzhou took these words to heart, and after all these years, not only did he still treat his father like a stranger, but he also grew estranged from his maternal grandparents.
Cheng Xi’s conclusion from all this was that even though Lu Chenzhou had a privileged childhood, it wasn’t any good at all: his father didn’t feel a sense of familial duty or responsibility, and his mother was a workaholic.
In fact, the marriage between Lu Chenzhou’s parents had been brought about by Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather. Back then, he thought that Lu Chenzhou’s mother was a rare genius, and he had done his best to lure her over to his own medical company, and then, as additional insurance, even had his son marry her.
In truth, Lu Chenzhou’s mother had been a wonderful boon to Donglai, which had only been a small pharmaceutical factory back then. One of their flagship drugs was a direct result of Lu Chenzhou’s mother’s research, and it was this drug that brought Donglai to the forefront of the pharmaceutical industry.
Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents treated him and Lu Chenming particularly well because of this—they felt that they owed it to their two grandsons. And Lu Chenzhou’s enmity toward Donglai Pharmaceuticals was also laid clear now: the wealth that the company had accumulated was only a constant reminder of his painful past.
Lu Chenzhou most likely admired his mother very much, especially given her dedication in the lab, but she had ended up dying as a direct cause of his actions…… As Cheng Xi pondered this chain of events, she suddenly felt that the sequence was incongruous, and she quickly asked them a seemingly completely unrelated series of questions. “How old was Lu Chenzhou when this incident happened?”
“Eight or nine years old, I think.”
“At the time, what were the laboratory doors like?”
“Not too different from what they are now: automated metal doors.”
Cheng Xi looked at them strangely and then asked her last question. “Then, shouldn’t his mother have been able to open it from the inside?”
Cheng Xi had finally pinpointed where the sense of incongruity was coming from. If, after the fire started, Lu Chenzhou had really locked the door, then as far as Cheng Xi was aware, the doors should have been able to be opened from the inside regardless of whether it was locked or not—as long as his mother actually had time to escape.
“But…… but Zhou did start the fire, didn’t he?”
Cheng Xi didn’t say anything. Lu Chenzhou’s recollection of the incident was disheveled and spotty in multiple places; for example, whenever Cheng Xi asked what he was doing with his mother in the lab, he either avoided the question or fell silent.
On the weekends, Lu Chenzhou could have stayed with his grandparents instead of going to the lab. Why would his mother bring him to the lab with her? Especially after the incident where Lu Chenzhou accidentally ate the wrong medication and had to be sent to the hospital?
Was it really just to nurture his interest in medical research?
After she thanked Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents for the honest conversation, she went to the study to look for Lu Chenzhou. He had fallen already asleep on the sofa with his long legs slightly bent to the side and half of his body covered by the blanket. He looked unusually obedient and docile.
Cheng Xi crept up to him and leaned down to his face. It was almost dusk outside, and in the dim light, Lu Chenzhou’s tightly shut eyes left two long shadows reaching across his face.
His eyelashes are really long. Cheng Xi’s heart itched a little, and she couldn’t help herself form stretching a hand out to touch them.
Her fingertips bounced into a fluffy elastic resistance, as if she’d accidentally brushed against a butterfly’s wings. Suddenly, the butterfly’s wings opened, and her hand was caught.
“You’re awake?” she asked him naturally, as if she didn’t realize that she’d woken him up.
He stretched his arms out, hugged her, rubbed his face against her shoulder, and lightly kissed her lower jaw.
The atmosphere between them was nice, but as Cheng Xi leaned against him, she suddenly asked, “Lu Chenzhou, I’d like to find someone to conduct hypnotherapy on you. Is that fine?”